Wakeboarders Shred Container Gaps With Crane Tow

Who needs a cable and plastic ramps when you have a crane and shipping containers to hit?
By Dom Granger

What's it take to get a unique, high-level setup for some never-before-seen wakeboarding? Take three very talented and creative wakeboarders — Dominik Hernler, Felix Georgii and Dominik Gührs — with an idea and the means to make it happen.

It all started by the guys watching a YouTube video of someone waterskiing while being dragged by an excavator. That video eventually evolved into the clip above — The Wake Crane Project. But, of course, a project like this doesn’t come to life easily. There's tons of planning, research and feature design that goes into it. Obviously, it’s not as easy as one might think to find a crane with a boom long enough and fast enough. Not to mention, strategically placing shipping containers as features along the course.

After searching the ports of Hamburg, Rotterdam and Istanbul, we finally hit the jackpot in Pula, Croatia.

Felix Georgii

The Holy Grail of cranes

Dominik Gührs, Dominik Hernler and Felix Georgii
The crew, the crane and the personal chauffeur © Daniel Deak Bardos/Red Bull Content Pool

Since most cranes aren't fast enough or are equipped with shorter booms, the boys had to search in ports all over the world before finally finding "the one" in Croatia.

The Beauty (a type Link Belt LS-108C for the connoisseurs out there) had a boom that measured 131 feet in length and could hit speeds of 37 mph, which exceeded the requirements of the usual 18 mph in wakeboarding.

The perfect 360-degree setup

Felix Georgii wakeboarding pulled by a crane during the Wake Crane project in Croatia
Felix Georgii takes a spin with the crane © Daniel Deak Bardos/Red Bull Content Pool

Crane: check. Well, almost. The newly appointed wakeboard crane still had to be heaved and welded on the top of the central platform, which would prevent it from tipping over during the action. Once that step was over, it was time to start creating the features that would populate the waters of Pula.

No less than seven shipping containers took on new life during this project. With the help of the crew of skilled workers at the Uljanik Pula Wharf, as well as five industrial divers, the crew was able to position the containers in the water using 28 anchors, each of which weighed an impressive 1,600 pounds.

The Flying Obstacle was the absolute highlight. It was integrated in our wake crane park, although it was levitating! It was a scary obstacle at first, but we soon started loving it because there's never been a similar obstacle in wakeboarding.

Dominik Gührs

This is how you make a container levitate

Felix Georgii wakeboarding pulled by a crane during the Wake Crane project in Croatia
The Flying Obstacle. Rider: Felix Georgi © Daniel Deak Bardos/Red Bull Content Pool

But the highlight of this wakepark was, of course, the Flying Obstacle — a first in the wakeboard universe. "Physically and technically it was a real challenge, but it was awesome — as wicked as it was exhausting!" explains Georgii.

Since it had never been done before, it also meant that none of the riders had wakeboarded a feature like this before. "The first few runs were a little sketchy, but we pushed each other and soon fell in love with that flying container. I would have loved to shred that park a few days longer!" says Hernler.

A container gap, a boat (whose railing was converted into a rail) and a kicker, which was built inside one of the containers, completed the circular course.

But was it worth the hassle? Absolutely. They wanted to come up with a project that would please and amaze wakeboarders and non-wakeboarders alike, with something that had never been done in the past. "We had all the time in the world to put together an unprecedented setup the way we imagined it. And then could shred it as much and as hard as we wanted to, so that’s what we did," says Hernler.

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